City's fire chief retires, looks back with pride

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am


Fire Services Department chief Gregory Lo Chun-hung expressed relief as the curtain came down on his 38 years of public service yesterday.

Lo, who joined the service in 1975 after two years as a civil servant, said the job of a fireman meant more than just picking up a pay cheque.

'I have always told my colleagues that our job is not just for making money; we have taken a job from God,' said Lo, who is succeeded by his former deputy, Andy Chan Chor-kam.

During his four-year tenure as chief, the city suffered several deadly fires, among them the 2008 blaze at Cornwall Court in Mong Kok in which four people died, including two firefighters. These raised concerns about building safety and provoked criticism for the department's allegedly slow equipment upgrades.

But the 57-year-old yesterday gave a stout defence of the service, saying that upgrades to equipment had always been in the pipeline. 'There are some reports that we only change our equipment after disasters, but they were unjust,' he said.

'For example, before the Cornwall Court incident we had already obtained funding to change the breathing apparatus. But we just could not get the new equipment immediately,' he said.

Asked about unforgettable moments of his career, he talked about the grief of losing colleagues in the line of duty. 'We as firemen are not afraid of tough tasks. But I admit that one thing I am afraid of is to see the relatives of deceased colleagues.'

Lo plans to spend his retirement hiking and doing voluntary work.